Business headlines: Viagogo; Toyota; BMW; Giraffe; Ed’s Easy Diner; Countrywide; JetBlue; Debenhams; Paperchase


It’s vital to be aware of the latest news in the industry you’re working in or applying to. Here are some headlines you might find interesting:

Competition watchdog planning further legal action against Viagogo
Ticket reseller Viagogo is facing another round of legal action from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it failed to comply with consumer protection rules. Viagogo was taken to court by the CMA last year for breaking consumer protection law and was given a deadline of 17 January to make a number of changes to its operations. This included changing the way the site collects and presents information about tickets for sale on its site, as well as publishing the names and addresses of people selling over 100 tickets a year on the site. While Viagogo told the BBC shortly after the deadline that it was compliant, the CMA has warned the company that it isn’t, although some improvements have been made. The CMA has stated it is now preparing to ask a court to find Viagogo in contempt.

Toyota and BMW warn no-deal Brexit could threaten car production in UK
Both Toyota and BMW have said that they are considering moving production of its vehicles out of the UK in case of a no-deal Brexit. Speaking to Sky News, BMW said that it might consider moving the production of its Mini from the UK if no deal is reached to leave the EU, while the head of Toyota’s European operations said that a no-deal Brexit could put future investment at its UK factory near Derby at risk. Other carmakers Aston Martin and Ford previously also warned of the risk of a no-deal scenario to the UK automotive industry.

Owner of Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner chains closing 27 outlets
The owner of restaurant chains Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner, Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), has announced it is closing 27 restaurants. Both chains will enter a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) as almost a third of their 87 restaurants are closed, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. Chief executive of BRG, Tom Crowley, said a CVA was the only option to protect the company. He stated that while overall sales at the chains had improved since they were acquired in 2016, there are several sites that still remain unprofitable. He named increasing costs, a slowdown in customer demand and over-supply of restaurants as reasons behind the closures.

Countrywide fined £215,000 over money-laundering failings
Estate agent group Countrywide has received a £215,000 fine from HMRC over money laundering failures. HMRC found that Countrywide failed to ensure that its money-laundering procedures and record-keeping were in line with regulations. Countrywide responded to the fine by saying that it had conducted a full review of its anti-money laundering controls and has improved its processes that support and monitor compliance throughout the business. HMRC made surprise visits to 50 estate agents across England in one week to crack down on money-laundering in the sector.

JetBlue considering new flight routes between UK and US
US airline JetBlue has announced it is considering launching new routes between the US and the UK. JetBlue currently only operates in the US, the Caribbean and Latin America. The airline has an option to convert some A321neo aircraft that it ordered from Airbus in 2016 to accommodate the long-haul flights. The new routes it is considering will see the airline flying from New York and Boston to London. Chief executive of JetBlue, Robin Hayes, criticised the prices of transatlantic flights last year, saying they are too high, especially for business class tickets. Mr Hayes also stated that the transatlantic market has poor competition and said JetBlue could operate flights for much cheaper prices. The airline is expected to make a decision on the routes this year.

Department store chain Debenhams has issued another profit warning, following three previous ones last year, stating that its earlier full-year profit expectation of £8.3m was no longer valid as sales have continued to fall.

Stationery chain Paperchase has announced plans to close five of its 145 stores as the firm struggles with increased rents, fewer customers and higher costs due to a drop in the value of the pound.

Source: HN Global